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Bocce History: Learning And Appreciating Its Past

Of all games, bocce has one of the longest histories. In fact, its beginnings are so immersed in history that the true origin of the game is only speculated. But, learning how the game was played throughout thousands of years by different civilizations can be as fascinating as playing the game itself. Below, you'll discover how bocce was adopted by Romans, barbarians and soldiers. We'll describe why bocce was banned in a certain country centuries ago and why the ban was eventually lifted. Finally, you'll read how bocce spread throughout Europe before penetrating America.

From Egypt To Greece To Ancient Rome

Many bocce experts peg the game's origin to the early Egyptian civilization. Archaeological discoveries have uncovered paintings depicting Egyptian citizens enjoying a version of bocce (using polished rocks). Though little is known regarding how the Egyptians created the game, there is a distinctly consistent similarity in their game's goal with that of bocce: players win points by tossing rocks close to a target rock.

Bocce eventually migrated to Greece. Little is known about the Greek's use of the game. But, they quickly introduced it to the Romans. The Romans instantly fell in love with it and the game spread quickly throughout the Empire. It was originally played by Roman citizens with higher social status including senators, generals and other rulers of the time. Eventually, bocce was introduced to the rest of Roman society, who enjoyed both the athleticism and competitive nature of the game.

A Bocce Prohibition

In 1319, the Roman Emperor Charles IV banned the game. By that time, the game had begun being played by the military, the ruling body of Rome and peasants. The Emperor felt that the game had literally become a security issue. Claiming that bocce was taking soldiers' time away from military exercises, Charles IV placed a ban on the game. However, the ban didn't last long. Years after Charles IV's decree against bocce, physicians at the Medical Faculty of Montpellier, France stated that the game was one of the best exercises for helping to treat (and prevent) rheumatism. Soon after, the prohibition was lifted.

Bocce Conquers Europe

Though the game was condemned in parts of Europe, it caught on quickly in Britain. Notable English citizens such as Queen Elizabeth I and the charismatic Sir Francis Drake loved the game and played it often. Because bocce was played by the upper crust of British society, the game gradually became popular throughout the rest of Europe. Within decades, it was played by painters, engineers, soldiers and emperors across the land. In many ways, bocce became a social equalizer amongst European men from varying walks of life.

From Backyards To Tournaments

Once bocce was introduced into America (notably played by George Washington), it was adopted quickly by people in every state. Today, bocce is widely-regarded as one of the world's oldest competitive games. The simplicity of the game and friendly competition that it inspires makes it an ideal platform to enjoy the company of others. In fact, many people have bocce courts installed in their backyards to be enjoyed by their friends and family. Others immerse themselves in the sport and participate in international tournaments. As one of the longest-lasting, most resilient games ever created, bocce can be a fantastic way to meet others while experiencing the camaraderie of competition.